8-bit Breakdown of Ready Player One the Movie

We passed along Entertainment Weekly’s first look at Ready Player One and all of their hopeful optimism in a recent blog and though the hype train continues to barrel down its rickety virtual tracks, we thought it was time to give you something a little more.

So, just to grease the gears a little bit and get your speculation turbines churning, here’s my take on an 8-bit rundown of what needs to be said about the upcoming adaptation.

The Background Bit

Strap in tight if you’ve never flown with Parzival in the Vonnegut, or you’ve been living in a internet-barren shack for the past few weeks.  

If you took two parts Willy Wonka, one part National Treasure, Lee Geddy’s guitar pick, a dash of shameless nostalgia and rusty quarters from the bottom of an arcade cocktail cabinet, stuck it all in a Ghostbuster-decaled tumbler and gave it to Doc Brown for fuel… the resulting trip to the future would look like Ernest Cline’s smash-hit sci-fi dystopia in Ready Player One.

Chock full of 80’s references and teenage angst, the aforementioned book reads like a love letter to the nerdy girl you crushed on in high school if she had a nuanced taste in Japanese anime, an unhealthy obsession with John Hughes, and trust issues larger than the Hoover Dam is wide.

That Cast & Crew Bit

This production team on this one packs a bit of a one-two. Let’s just drop some names here: Mark Rylance. Simon Pegg. Ok, cool. That’s all I needed, let’s move on.

Just kidding. Steven F***ING Spielberg. Ben Mendelsohn (legitimately jazzed for this one). The list continues (for a little while). If I have any reservations about who’s putting this together, oddly enough, it’s got to be the M&E folks and the team behind visual effects at WB.

Cast wise, I have my reservations. The primary trio in the High-Five are being portrayed by some familiar young faces, but I’m skeptical of both their look and prowess. Wade is a unique character that calls for a nuanced performance blending geeky enthusiasm and stoic pride, and Tye Sheridan has his work cut out for him.

Shave and a Hair Cut

Though the screenplay is brought to you in part by the author himself, Ernie shared writing cred on this one with Zak Penn, who has some major blockbuster savoir-faire. He wrote the Avengers and X-2, if you were curious. Cline comes to the party with some blockbuster chops of his own — the Blockbuster Exclusive variety. Prior to becoming the nerd-writing paragon that he’s known as now, Ernest Cline put in the proverbial groundwork with Fanboys, an enjoyable trope-ride built on nostalgic Star Wars mania.

That being said, this screenwriting part has my knickers all kinds of twisted. Cline has pointed out before that many of the beloved references he makes in the novel will doubtless be stripped from the movie adaptation due to licensing issues. The benefit, we thought, would be that Warner Bros. picked up the flick at auction, and vowed to treat it with respect. I mean, damn, they let the author go in on the screenplay. Then they thought they’d up the ante with a legendary director.

So why am I still sketched out? Maybe because I loved the book, with all of its obscure nods and unabashed love of the 80’s, but maybe also because it represents one beast of a script to write, and it would take a miracle to pull it off.

That Trailer Bit

We got our first taste of a trailer from San Diego Comic-con. Just in case you’re that weird person who hasn’t seen it 107 times, here’s the video. Or, you know, if you want to go for 108.

Alright, deep breath.

Overall, the gunter community is edgy about what was seen in the SDCC trailer. Let’s count the differences, top to bottom (Trailer watching tally – 109):

  • Wade is 20
  • He lives in Columbus
  • It’s nice and sunny in Columbus
  • Wade athletically jumps down the stacks

I’m only 0:41 seconds into the damn trailer… Ok, I knew things needed to change for the silver screen. Strong missing millions reference to the book, moving on.

  • Was that Freddy Krueger?
  • Batman.
  • Wait, the Sixers are robots?

Dammit don’t ruin Tom Sawyer for me.

  • A car race? What?
  • I assume that’s supposed to be Art3mis.

Final thoughts: “Aech is an orc. Eh…Well at least the crystal key looked cool.”

The Hype Bit

I think this is Warner Bros. train-wrecking into a new storyline. What the fandom needed to see in the first trailer is a glass-shattering, disappointing, literal thrill ride in order to come to terms with some of the major changes that were unfortunately necessary for this movie to be made.

What I expect to see in the next trailer is more of Parzival. Mix that in with some dramatic downtime, nerd-centric references, and most importantly, the escapism and thematic tones that lend both the story and its main character their weight.

I don’t think we’ll see more than one more trailer and maybe a featurette later on, but I hope they do they next one justice. Ready Player One is enough of a hit to fill theatre seats without the mass marketing hysteria, but the next trailer is going to need to be strong to fend off the rabid gunters itching for discrepancies.

The Community Bit

In social media channels and in forums, the latest sneak peek is causing a bit of an uproar, if we’re going to speak in delicate terms.

On one side, you get the book nerds who (like me) freaked out seeing the Stacks in the intro and the kitschy narrative we’ve come to expect from Wade’s character. On the other, you have the Gen-Z trailer fanatics who started drooling because they recognized some characters from their favorite summer smash-flop: Suicide Squad.

If you’re one of the latter, I can recommend a number of non-Second Draft media outlets that might better tickle your fancy:

I’m not saying that Ready Player One neophytes aren’t going to understand the story, but I do want to make a point. Some recent movies have catered to this audience delicately — see our take on Spider-Man: Homecoming. Others, without tact — see Transformers: The Last Knight. The problem that Hollywood constantly runs into with adaptations is completely missing their target demographic.

Fortunately for the folks at Warner Bros, this one has a pretty wide age gap. From the folks that legitimately grew up in the 80’s, right up to the folks like me who still remember paying quarters to play video games.

In total, the public seems intent on tearing this film down before it begins. Notwithstanding the neutral tone of this article/blog/stream-of-consciousness, the consensus on the trailer and insights we’ve gleaned thus far is a mixed bag of horrors for a marketing department. With people attacking the movie’s concept, others attacking its flashy gimmicks, and still others doubting a springtime Warner Bros miracle.

The (Not-so-virtual) Reality Bit

I’ve got to pray that the producers on this one pulled in some genuine Cline fans to smooth out the edges, otherwise they might not have time to fix the leaks on this ship. Either way, I hope it floats and delivers us to a version of the OASIS we can enjoy without too much more criticism.If not, this movie is going to look like the entrance to the third gate after the battle at Anorak’s castle.

Didn’t get the reference? That’s the point. Read the book. As Mr. Neistat warned his 7 million followers, the story has a shelf-life. The kind where the book sits in a bookcase, and the crap version of the same story ilk plays pretty on your 4k wall display.

Anyway, it may have had a bit of nuance according to Movies with Mikey, but let’s hope this Spielberg – Warner Bros. matchup doesn’t give us another movie like A.I.

Ok, one more time, nuance. There. I think I think I fulfilled the repetition quota.